Saturday, July 30, 2011

All You Had To Do Was Ask

Wow, what a turnout. All Ross Eadie had to do was ask for a little help. And he got it in spades.
I went out to Main Street this morning to help Ross, and the rest of the volunteers who came out to help plant flowers along the boulevard on Main Street. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I got to my checkpoint at Redwood, but I kind of thought there would be a good turnout. Well, there was. I am sure there were over twenty people at Redwood and Main when I got there just after 8am this morning. And more people arrived after that. That was just one of three checkpoints where volunteers gathered to plant flowers on the boulevard along Main Street this morning.
It seems the City of Winnipeg didn't think Main Street in the North End warranted flowers this year. But the North End disagreed. And our City Councillor disagreed. Ross organized the aquisition of flowers (mostly donated I am told) and called for volunteers to help plant them. I guess all Ross had to do was ask. Because there sure were flowers, and there sure were volunteers out this morning to help with the project.
The planting exercise was well organized, with boulevard captains ensuring people were safe, and collecting empty potting containers so they weren't caught by the wind. There were teams of planters and teams watering the plants. We were all given safety vests, and instructions on keeping safe.
"Cross only at intersections"
"Face North or South when on the boulevard"
"Make sure the empty planting pots don't blow into the street"

By 9:30am all the planters in my area were filled and watered. We took care of the stretch from Redwood Ave. to Selkirk Ave. What a difference it makes when the weeds are pulled and flowers planted. And what a great job all of the volunteers did in taking care of the planters this morning.
All Ross had to do was ask and the North End was there, trowels in hand, ready to take care of business. That's what neighbourhoods do. And the North End is one of those neighbourhoods. We have a lot of great people, who really care. And we are there when needed.
Thanks Ross, for asking us to help. Because you know, all you have to do is ask.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The North End And Its Volunteers

I have lived in the North End now for about four years, since moving from my home on Corydon Avenue. My husband has lived in this house for ten years or so, but his family goes way back. They were one of the first families to move in on Cathedral Avenue back in the early 1900's. When I thought of the North End, prior to moving here, I thought it was a place I would never want to live, and definitely a place I would not want my children to grow up in. I raised them in Fort Rouge.
But, since coming to the North End, I have gotten to know a lot of great people. And I have become involved in the community this past year. That is not unusual for me, though. I was a volunteer at Earl Grey School when my children were attending there. I have always been involved in some way in my community. So, becoming a volunteer in the North End was not really out of the ordinary for me.
I received an invitation to join my residents association from one of their members, who had started reading my blog. So, I decided to contact the association and find out what they were all about, to see if it was something I might be interested in.
Well, I did join the association, and I joined a few more associations in the North End as well. In getting involved in my community, I have found that there are a lot of people who really care about the North End, and I mean a lot of people.
I have met many people from each of the Residents Associations in the North End. Some associations have COPP (Citizens On Patrol) programs, others are trying to start them up. A couple of areas have the Powerline program. Each association has people who truely care about their communities. And the North End has more. We have combined organizations that share information and help throughout the entire North End. We have a combined COPP walk, a Neighbour to Neighbour Safety Stragegy that works toward making the North End a safer place. We have the North End United that has just started up, to bring a stronger voice to the North End. And we have many, many good people in the North End who pick up litter, report illegal dumping, clean their areas up, watch for crimes, etc., who are not actively involved in any committee or organization. They are just good citizens.
The North End also has a great City Councillor now, Ross Eadie. I saw he hit the news again today. He is organizing a flower planting party on Saturday morning, to put flowers in the planters on Main Street. If anyone is interested in helping out, just drop by or call Ross at 391-6259. He'd love to hear from you. Oh, and Ross, I will be there too on Saturday.
While I am plugging events, St Johns Residents Association is going to be starting their own COPP program this year. If you live in the area of Main to McGreagor, Redwood to Atlantic and would like to be involved, let us know. You can email us at, or call Joy at 927-2340. And our next meeting is August 17, 7pm at Ralph Brown Community Center. Further news of the area, Picnic in the Park will be held on Saturday, August 20 at St Johns Park. And St Johns Residents Association will be holding a mid-summer clean-up the following week. Plans are still being made on the clean-up, so I can't say too much just yet. But it should be a lot of fun.
And I just want to end this blog post with a great big thanks to every person in the North End who has done something positive. Thanks for volunteering on a committee. Thanks for watching out for your block, or planting flowers in your yard. And thanks for picking up litter on the boulevard. Thanks for helping, in whatever way you have, to make the North End a better place to live. We all know the North End was not this bad 10 years ago, so we can turn it around. We can bring back the North End that everyone from the area remembers. Just one positive action at a time.
Thanks North End, for all your positive actions, and all the positive actions to come.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crumbling Garage Removed In Only 7 Days

I came across a garage that was in the process of falling in on itself a week ago. It was actually exactly a week ago that I found this garage. The roof had already caved in, but had not yet fallen to the ground. I reported it to 311 by email, then called them to ensure they got the photo and were notified right away, regarding this potential danger to people and/or animals in the area.
The City Planning department contacted me early the next day, to let me know they were on the case. They were taking this issue quite seriously, or at least that is what I was told. I expressed the need for the garage to be taken down immediately, as it posed a danger. The City Planning employee said he would contact the demolition company and get back to me. I received a return call fairly quickly and was told the demolition people were prepared to take the garage down that very day. Wow, I thought. That would be great.
But wait, there's a hitch. The demolition company needs a P.O. Number, you know, a purchase order number, so they are not charged at the landfill when disposing of the materials. I asked how long that would take, and was told it would take up to a week. Well, I guess it took a week.
Wednesday, July 20 - garage found with roof already fallen in

Thursday, July 21 - inside view of garage, showing roof dropping to the ground
Saturday, July 23 - garage wall falling further into the lane
Sunday, July 24 - garage door falling, showing different angle

Monday, July 25 - garage showing exposed side
Tuesday, July 26 - garage still there, walls still falling
Wednesday, July 27 - finally no garage
So, it took a full week for the garage, which was literally fallilng down, to be removed. Even though the demolition company was prepared to take care of it immediately, the very day they were told about it, the garage removal was delayed a full week.
Must I ask the question? Sure, why not. How long would it have taken to be removed if that garage were in Tuxedo or Crescentwood? Oh wait a minute, it would never have been allowed to get that bad. The landlord, or home owner would be required to uphold the Neighbourhood Livability By-Laws. And if a resident reported a garage that was in violation, it would have been taken care of. So, my question really was a stupid one. The better neighbourhoods would never have a garage falling apart to this extent. The better neighbourhoods are able to make complaints about houses and / or garages before they get to this stage, and have things dealt with.
Only in the North End can a building be so ignored. Fill a street with rental properties. Hold no landlord accountable. Hold no tenant accountable for any damage done to property or neighbourhood. Let Police and Waste Management alike drive right by crumbling buildings. Tell residents that buildings are 'not that bad' when they report By-Law infractions often enough that they stop calling them in. And put no rush on a demolition when a citizen, resident of the area, executive member of the residents association responsible for the area that garage was located in, screams DANGER.
Isn't that just par for the course.
I see now why volunteers in the North End get so burned out. Nobody in these City departments really give a rats *ss about the North End. I expect better from my city.
And you haven't heard the last from me on this one.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dumpster Ablaze In Wee Hours Of The Morning

I awoke last night with my husband looking out the window. He said the neighbours dumpster was on fire. We could see the smoke from our window, and the neighbours were outside making sure their garage was not ignited by the flames.
I saw the fire truck go by, lights flashing and siren blaring. Then nothing. The siren was turned off. I expected to see the truck roll into the back lane right away, but no. There was no truck. It seemed to take forever for that truck to come down our lane. Did time stand still as I waited to see the truck, or was it putting out another fire nearby before coming down my lane for the fire that concerned me?
I say this because last fall, when my dumpster was on fire, I didn't even hear a siren. I was at home, and had just looked out the back window a few minutes earlier and saw nothing. It seems a fire truck was attending another fire around the corner, and dropped by to put my dumpster out when the neighbours called it in. They were told, "oh ya, we're right around the corner, we'll just back in and put that one out".
So, I wondered how many dumpsters were on fire last night? Or was this the only one?
I got to thinking about how many fires I was actually aware of in my one single block down my back lane since starting this blog in August last year.
There was the fire in my dumpster. Then the fire in the dumpster down the street, in the dumpster that I ordered in, so garbage would not be placed on the ground behind that one house. Then the couch and back of a porch on a house in the lane. And now, the neighbours dumpster.
Those are the fires I am aware of, the ones I noticed, in my one back lane on a single block in the North End of Winnipeg.
A Free Press reported, William Burr, contacted me last week, after I wrote my blog entry Fires Running Rampant ... In Crescentwood?. He was going to come into the North End and take a tour of the area I talked about, the three short blocks that had seven fires within three months, that I was aware of. The reporter said he would have to get the 'ok' from his Editor. And we all know what the editor said ..... "not news worthy". It didn't surprise me one bit that North End fires are not 'news worthy' to the Press.
I also contacted 311 to see if I could get stats on the number of arsons taking place since April 1 from Redwood to Mountain, Main to McGregor (about the same area as stated in the Free Press article on Arsons in Crescentwood). They said to contact the Police, so I did.

Subject: Winnipeg Police Service General Inq... : Request For Information - Number of arson fires in North End
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 4:40:25 PM
I would like to know the number of arson fires in the North end since April 1, 2011 for the area of Main St to Mcgregor St, Redwood Ave to Mountain Ave.
Also, I would like to know the type of fires (eg. dumpster on fire, house fire, garage fire, etc).
Rae Butcher
Still waiting for a reply, but I only put the request in on Friday.
You would think fires in the North End would be a story, even for the Free Press. You would think after a rooming house was set on fire, and five people died, fires in the North End would be news worthy. Murders hit the news. The odd stabbing hits the news. But fires? They are only news in Crescentwood. For the North End, when our property is damaged, or threatened, fires are just another day 'In The Hood'.